The key to great communication is not too much, not too little. Don't assume others know what you know, but speak up if unclear. Ask for help if not you or a team member isn't coping. Confess problems.
- I suppose you could sum up the previous two sections by saying that sometimes the ideal team player would speak up and do their share, while other times they would be a good listener. Not too much talking and not too little. If you're on a team of four, you should do about 25 percent of the talking. Do you? After a meeting, do you walk away with your own voice ringing in your ears? Because if this is the case, then maybe you've over done it. But also, don't assume that the others know what you know.
I sometimes run team improvement days, when we all go off-site and think about how to work together more effectively. And one of the exercises I use involves each person being given part of the information needed to solve the puzzle. And amazingly, nearly always they get stuck for ages, and then someone suddenly reveals a key bit of the information, and all the others go, "What? Why didn't you tell us that before?" There they were, saying, "If only we knew the price of kangaroos." and one of the team has a little card saying, "Kangaroos cost 50 dollars." and he doesn't say anything.
Incredible. A common version of this is when one of the team, possibly one of the more quiet, cautious, thinking types, has a worry about the plan. They think that part of it might go wrong, but they don't say anything. And then later, when inevitably it has gone wrong, they might quietly say, "I knew it wouldn't work." Oh, great. Now you tell us. So the rule is, speak up if you have useful information. And speak up if you've spotted a flaw in the plan, even if last time you were accused of being negative.
And also, speak up if you're unclear. If you didn't quite catch part of the instructions, or you don't understand the plan, then it's your duty as a team member to say so. Nobody else is going to know, so you have to speak up. There have been times when I've spoken up and said I didn't understand part of the plan. And afterwards everybody else said, "We didn't understand it either." So if in doubt, you should say so. And finally you should ask for help when you need it.
It's very tempting to keep quiet and hope you can catch back up. But if you're having a problem, you should confess it and ask for help as soon as possible, before it gets any worse. If the others in the team aren't supportive, then that's a failure by them, not by you. We all have things we're not so good at and times when we need help. And the whole point of a good team is that you can ask for help and it will be given. So summing up this section, are you good enough at speaking up in the four situations: when you have useful information, when you've spotted a potential problem with the plan, when you're unclear about the plan, and when you need help.
Lynda.com is a PMI Registered Education Provider. This course qualifies for professional development units (PDUs). To view the activity and PDU details for this course, click here.
The PMI Registered Education Provider logo is a registered mark of the Project Management Institute, Inc.
- Getting the job done
- Dividing up the work
- Cultivating communication
- Handling conflict
- Delivering reliably
- Playing more than one role
- Using your strengths and dealing with your weaknesses